Ignored Aetiologic Factors of Growth Faltering/Stunting In Sierra Leonean Children: Aflatoxin and Ochratoxin A
Growth stunting is a major burden in developing countries, affecting 147 million children. In Sierra Leone, 40% of children are known to be stunted. Several factors, especially the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases and the socio-economic status of these children have been cited as contributing factors to stunting. Until recently, the role of aflatoxins as a causative agent of stunting was never explored. Recent studies carried out in Benin, Togo and The Gambia have implicated aflatoxin in the aetiology of stunting/growth faltering in children. Studies carried out in the Southern province (Bo and Njala) have demonstrated that children not only have a high frequency of detection of aflatoxins but in some instances very high levels too, in the various body fluids examined. Similarly, a lesser known but equally deleterious mycotoxin – ochratoxin A, was detected in all body fluids examined. Suggestions for a primary intervention strategy have been given.
Key words: Stunting, aflatoxin, ochratoxin, children, Sierra Leone